Amsterdam, with its tree-lined canals, bridges, bicycles, and gabled houses, is one of Europe’s most popular destinations, especially for city breaks. The city is full of museums, trendy neighborhoods, parks, and bars, each one cooler than the next … Faced with these tough choices, we advise you on the 10 things not to miss during your visit to Amsterdam!
Obvious but essential
- Visit a museum. With over 50 museums to choose from, there is bound to be one to your liking. The Rijksmuseum is the Dutch National Museum. It exhibits works by great masters such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Vermeer. For modern and contemporary art, head to the unique, tub-shaped Stedelijk Museum that is easy to spot. Then, of course, there’s the Anne Frank House, where you’ll be transported back in time during the German occupation of WWII.
- Cycling. Amsterdam is one of the most cycling cities in the world. So give the first pedal to start the machine and explore the city by bike. The flat landscape and all the infrastructure for bicycles (cycle paths, traffic lights) make it easier to get around and give another meaning to the exploration of the canals and the different districts of the city.
Along the water
- Cruise on the canals. Amsterdam’s canal network, more than 400 years old, gives you the opportunity to discover the city in a different way by multiplying the points of view. By day, you will appreciate the architecture and its narrow merchant houses that lean at impossible angles. Don’t miss the narrowest of them at number 7 of the Singel Canal. At night, when you glide under pretty illuminated bridges, the atmosphere is quite different, more magical. Four of the main canals: Singel, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht, and Herengracht are listed as UNESCO World Heritage. To get around and multiply the stops, the Canal Bus is an original, practical, and pleasant way to travel while discovering the most beautiful sites of the city.
- The Amsterdam Flower Market is a kaleidoscope of color and the only floating flower market in the world. It stands on the south bank of the Singel Canal. If you are visiting Amsterdam in the spring (mid-March to mid-May), we recommend heading to Lisse and visiting Keukenhof Park and its flower gardens, just 20 minutes by bus from the city center of Amsterdam. Besides, what would your trip be if you didn’t explore the tulip fields by bike?
- Strike a pose in front of the monumental letters “I Amsterdam” planted in front of the Rijksmuseum. And if by any chance you didn’t want to end up with strangers in the photo, be aware that the same set of letters are at Schiphol Airport.
Restaurants in Amsterdam
- Try the Stroopwafel, or two thin waffles sandwiched with a layer of caramel syrup. This little treat can be enjoyed both hot and cold but is especially appreciated hot during coffee. For the “saltier” among you, there are also the cones of Dutch fries that come with all kinds of sauces: peanut sauce Satay style, or mayonnaise and onion sauce, curry ketchup …
- Make way for the cheese board. The Netherlands are also known for their good cheeses. To taste it, we invite you to the Nine Streets shopping district where you will find De Kaaskamer van Amsterdam (The Amsterdam Cheese Room). The store offers a variety of over 200 cheeses, to taste before you buy.
A little beer with that? Try the Heineken experience or head to the IJ Brewery, an organic microbrewery, located next to an old windmill called De Gooyer, the largest wooden mill in the Netherlands.
Life in the parks
- A Pique-Nique in the park. The Vondelpark is the largest of the city’s many parks. Adopt Dutch habits and organize a picnic in the Vondelpark and its green spaces. In summer, enjoy one of the free concerts or shows staged in the park’s open-air theater or in the kiosk.
- The Red Light District – De Wallen or the famous “ Red Light District” is the most controversial district of Amsterdam: both touristy and uncrowded, with its “entertainment” reserved for adults. This district is also a must-see in the Dutch capital. It is indeed one of the oldest and prettiest areas of Amsterdam with its narrow cobbled streets, historic houses, and pretty tree-lined canals. The old Gothic 13th-century church offers a striking backdrop and the plethora of cafes on the canal side makes it a pleasant place to enjoy in broad daylight.
- Shopping in the Nine Streets neighborhood. The picturesque canals connected by pretty little bridges make it one of Amsterdam’s most photographed areas. Many vintage shops, designers, and other galleries are swarming there. Cafés, bars, and restaurants line the canals. De Luwte in particular is a very pleasant place to dine.